Hebrews Ch 12 verse 14 Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness, no one will see the Lord.
Sometimes living in peace with others is not always easy, whether it be family members, work colleagues, neighbours, or even some who attend the same Church! We do not necessarily like everyone, some people are just different to us and that is OK, but others are different to us and they just irritate us, just by being who they are.
Each of us is an individual, made in the image of God but distinct from everyone else, and distinct and different are not wrong, each of us is made in God’s image and express different characteristics. I can think of someone now who I just do not ‘click’ with, how they live, how they treat others and their whole demeanour are an irritation to me. They have never directly harmed me in any way, and I get on with them OK, but I tolerate them rather than like them.
Regardless of all this, the challenge of this verse is to lay on one side our irritations and do all that we can to get on with others in a way that is peaceable. This is more than just ‘putting up’ with someone and forcing ourselves to smile, but is about making every effort, trying our best, and maybe about realising that we act in ways that displease God, but he accepts us regardless.
Dear Lord Jesus, before we allow the failings of others to affect our view of them, may we recognise our own failings and the gracious way that you see beyond them and love us regardless.
Psalm 97: verse 1 ‘The Lord reigns, let the earth be glad; let the distant shores rejoice.’
It is hard to hear of many feeling ‘fed up’ at this time maybe because of a lack of going out, seeing friends, or just not feeling free to enjoy previous pastimes now curtailed by a long absence of ‘normality’. Perhaps we can all do with a good ‘pick-me-up’! This Psalm is a great start to anyone’s day. It reminds us of the Lord in Heaven and His awesomeness. Such phrases as: ‘The Lord reigns’; ‘Fire goes before Him’; ‘for you, O Lord, are the Most High over all the earth.’ Some words from this Psalm. As powerful, supreme and mighty as God is, however, we also know through Jesus’ coming and touching our sinful world, that He is so interested in the minute details of our individual lives. As to the way ahead, our search for meaning; our thoughts, prayers and needs are all held by Him in and through the Son who loves us.
Oh Lord, because you reign may we with all creation be glad and praise your name. Be near we pray and comfort the lonely, fearful and needy-those we now bring before you in our thoughts. May your presence draw near.
Psalm 103 verse 1 Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise
his holy name.
The Psalms are full of verses about praising God, whether it is using our voice or an instrument, or praising him from a position of weakness or vulnerability. Time and again the Psalmist encourages us to give God our praise. This is so much more than words but reflects a deep gratitude that wells up within us.
Here it is referred to as ‘my inmost being’, a praise coming from deep within that reflects a reverence and thankfulness that is so much more than the words we speak.
It is only when we begin to fully understand the enormity of what God has done for us that praise overflows to him which finds its root in the depth of our being.
Dear Lord Jesus, may praise for you flow out of hearts that have begun to understand what it means to have been brought into your family, as an act of your grace.
Luke Ch 19 verse 41 ‘As He [Jesus] approached Jerusalem and saw the city, He wept over it…’
As we follow Jesus’ final approach to Jerusalem in this passage, we see another glimpse of His compassion. This depth of love is firstly towards the many who did not recognise and believe in who He was, but secondly, because He foresaw the future destruction of the city: in His words…’because you did not recognise the time of God’s coming to you.’ (v. 44) His coming was to be as the long-awaited Messiah and Saviour of the world.
Looking forward, it is good for us to be reminded that God alone knows the time when His Son, the Son of Man will return a second time to usher in a New Heaven and a New Earth. He alone knows the span of our individual lives and equally important is the fact that each of us are precious and dear to Him, just as were those Jesus ‘wept over’ (v. 41) in Jerusalem. May each of us know today the peace of God in Christ Jesus, and may we see with eyes of faith how we can best love others as we go through the day. As to the future; it is safe in God’s hands – hands that hold, help and protect in His unfailing love.
Lord Jesus, thank you for your love and compassion on all you have created. We thank you for the summer season passing and the rest and relaxation for all who were weary and in need of refreshment. In safety and in your peace we pray for schools and colleges and for all returning to places of education. Amen.
2 Corinthians Ch 5 verse 8 absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord
Even Christians have a tendency to be rooted on earth, and in all the things that we, as humans, find the need to spend time in doing. In the first part of this chapter, in his second letter to the Corinthians, Paul uses the imagery of the body as a tent or house. But sees that what is within the dwelling is what is important, as the dwelling is temporal but the life within is eternal with God. So that in death all we are is, ‘absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord’.
There have been numerous discussions over the years as to whether humans are tripartite or bipartite, in essence, whether we are body, soul and spirit, or body & soul/spirit refers to the same entity. Reams have been written and argued over, with the one constant point of agreement being the temporal nature of the body. Verses 2 – 4 of this passage refer to us having new bodies as this present body is ‘swallowed up by life’, which is an interesting phrase to refer to death by!
What we can be certain of is that this ‘tent’ of ours that ages, gets ill, causes us pain, and bears the marks of its time on this earth, will cease to live. We shall then inhabit new bodies and be ‘present with the Lord’.
Dear Lord Jesus, please give us an eternal perspective on this life. Help us to see the temporal nature of all that we inhabit and see around us, and to place you at the centre of all our hopes.
Acts Ch 8 verse 26 ‘Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, ‘Go south to the road – the desert road – that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.’
What an eye-opening verse – and faith-inspiring. Here Philip (one of the seven chosen in Acts 6 who were ‘full of the Spirit and wisdom’ called to ‘wait on tables’) is prompted and led by an angel to go and speak and explain the gospel of Jesus Christ to a traveller at a certain time and place. So Philip was someone not just set apart for an important practical ministry in the early church ensuring that everyone was equally provided for, but he was used by God in this famous encounter to lead this man to faith who happened to be reading Scripture but not understanding what he was reading.
All of us I’m sure get on with the practical ‘helps’ that we feel called to offer to help others, the church and our community. But we are also called to be a people of faith, to be filled by God’s Spirit as Philip was. We could even be led and guided by angelic beings here, now, today. Why? Because God may just want to reach someone through you and me! Awesome.
Come Holy Spirit. May we look for you at work in and through us today. Please show us the people, places and times to radiate your love and light. Fill us with you wisdom.
Ephesians Ch 6 verse 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
Whilst we can see injustices in society, terrible wrongs done in the world that we live in, and humans acting in the most despicable ways, this verse makes clear that the problem lies elsewhere. Humans sin, we know that as we only have to look at our own lives to confirm that, so we should not be that surprised at the havoc our combined sin can cause. But the root cause lies in the powers of darkness that influence individuals and society, causing the injustices and terrible deeds we witness today.
This verse should inform our prayer lives, rather than just praying for peace in this country and justice in another, maybe we should pray that the forces of darkness at work in the world will cease to be active in that area?
Maybe we should pray that the spiritual forces of evil will release their control of this CV19 and that the virus will die out?
Maybe, what have we to lose?
Dear Lord Jesus, give us wisdom in our prayers, and may we see the forces of evil at work today retreat before the praying people of God.